Fighting for the future of W.I. cricket
Across the Board (from the West Indies Cricket Board)
Stabroek News
November 23, 2003

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OVER the last six years, we have not had very many opportunities when the senior West Indies team has been on tour to offer them our heartiest congratulations for success in a Test series.

Today, we want to extend kudos to captain Brian Lara, coach Gus Logie and manager Ricky Skerritt for clinching a cliffhanger of a two-Test series against Zimbabwe and, now that they have spoiled us, we expect more in the ongoing One-day International series and on the imminent tour of South Africa. Additionally, we also want to congratulate Brian on becoming the leading runs scorer in Tests for West Indies.

When Teddy Griffith, new president of the West Indies Cricket Board, gave his first press conference a few weeks ago, he stressed the need for the team to be more consistent in its performance and outlined that one of his objectives over the next two years was to have the team cement itself in the top three of world cricket.

They might not have gotten everything right during the two Tests against the Zimbabweans, but one thing for sure that was plain for all to see was the indomitable spirit, the never-say-die attitude, that saw Ridley Jacobs and newcomer Fidel Edwards bat through a dozen overs to save us from defeat in the first Test.

The same was true when bowled out for 128 in the second innings of the second Test and giving the Zimbabweans the small matter of 232 to win, we bowled with purpose and showed great determination to complete a sensational victory, much to the delight and relief of many West Indians.

Anyone looking at this West Indies team can clearly see that there is plenty of talent embedded within it. The missing ingredient was consistency in application. Now having their appetites sweetened with the taste of victory, we now hope that this develops a great desire for more and more success within the team.

The imminent tour of South Africa is the perfect place to send a strong message to the rest of the cricket world and to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that West Indies cricket is on the way back. Brian intimated at the end of the home series against Sri Lanka earlier this year this was the place where his career got derailed and he's going to make it 'personal'.

If he can infuse the rest of the team with that mindset, we believe that the four Tests and five ODIs will make for a compelling series of which no one will want to miss a ball. There is a lot of hard work ahead and there is still more that the team can learn and they are still a long way from climbing into the top-three bracket in the world in Test cricket.

The WICB, though, has the great belief that the journey back to the top is not too far away. We believe we have the raw material, even when we look at what's happening at the junior levels of the game in the Caribbean, and now it is incumbent upon us to build the structure that will enable the players to maximise their potential.

The team will be searching for more success during the ODI series against

Zimbabwe.Currently ranked fifth in the world, a convincing win in the five-match series against the home team will not hurt.

We have not had quite the same level of success in Test match cricket as we have enjoyed in the ODI version of the game, particularly overseas. We have had some huge wins that clearly demonstrate that we have the capacity to beat any side in the world on our day.

We must, however, make it our day more often.

One of the goals of the WICB over the next four years is that we develop an ODI side that will fly our flag very high in the ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007. This does not mean that we will neglect the Test side.

No host team has ever won the World Cup. We have an enviable record playing at home that we hope to maintain over the next few years and place on the line when the world comes knocking on our doors in four years time for what we hope will be "the greatest sports show on earth".

The current ODI series against Zimbabwe and the tour of South Africa are just the beginning of that long road that we hope will be littered with success and not tragedy or despair.

President Griffith noted that the next year of non-stop cricket for the team is the perfect platform for them to grow and mature. We believe we have started to see some of that in Zimbabwe and we expect to see more in times to come.